White House Is Either Lying About Apple Order Or Doesn't Understand What A Backdoor Is
from the semantic-bullshit dept
In a briefing with reporters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest deferred to the Justice Department but said it's important to recognize that the government is not asking Apple to redesign its product or "create a new backdoor to its products."But that's bullshit -- and thankfully, at least some in the media are pointing this out.
Earnest said the case was instead about federal investigators learning "as much as they can about this one case."
As FBI Director James Comey has done saying he wants "front doors" rather than "back doors," the White House is playing word games that suggest they're either being deliberately misleading or they don't understand the basics of what's happening. Neither scenario makes the White House look very good.
The application and the order absolutely are about forcing Apple to create a backdoor. It is a specific backdoor, but the whole point is to undermine key security features that protect the users of the devices. The fact that it would just be targeted towards this one phone is basically meaningless in this context. The issue is that a court can order a tech company to deliberately undermine its own security and expose content on a device. That's a backdoor.
And, importantly, it's a backdoor that other countries will demand as well. China has already been using the US "debate" over backdooring encryption to support its own demands for backdoored encryption, and the results of this legal fight will absolutely be used by plenty of authoritarian countries to argue that they, too, can demand such backdoors.
As the NY Times notes, China is quite interested in this particular fight:
China is watching the dispute closely. Analysts say that the Chinese government does take cues from the United States when it comes to encryption regulations, and that it would most likely demand that multinational companies provide accommodations similar to those in the United States.Any move towards deliberately forcing tech companies to undermine security and privacy protections for users absolutely is a backdoor and will be used by countries with much less regard for the privacy of its citizenry.
Last year, Beijing backed off several proposals that would have mandated that foreign firms provide encryption keys for devices sold in China after heavy pressure from foreign trade groups. Nonetheless, a Chinese antiterrorism law passed in December required foreign firms to hand over technical information and to aid with decryption when the police demand it in terrorism-related cases.